Businesses in Birmingham are set for a major boost as they battle to deal with the global economic recession, as Birmingham City Council's Cabinet is asked to agree a £10.9 million in funding toward a far-reaching £17 million economic support package.
Announced by Cllr Neville Summerfield, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, the 'Working Neighbourhood Fund' package, delivered in partnership with BeBirmingham, will see specially tailored initiatives providing financial, logistical and creative support to thousands of companies large and small, in the city centre or suburbs,
It will also see major projects launched to train Birmingham's current and future workforce, and promote the development of specialised and regional centres specifically designed to nurture new and independent businesses.
The £10.9m from the Council will trigger a further £6 million in investment from partner agencies and funding partners, including the ERDF, meaning the overall support available to businesses will total more than £17 million.
Cllr Summerfield said: “This is the most far reaching package of its kind we have ever undertaken in the city, and with its reach and scale I am sure will play a very important role in helping businesses in this city survive the current climate and best shape themselves for future prosperity.”
“The key thing about this package is that it has been designed to offer real, tangible interventions, which will generate real benefits that can be measured in jobs, businesses created and those saved.”
Highlights of the package include (WNF funding allocation):
Stimulating Demand (£2.04 million)
Comprehensive package to support development, survival and growth of an estimated 440 existing and 50 new businesses.
Graduate Enterprise Employment (£1.2 million)
Delivered through Birmingham's three main universities, this project will see 870 new graduates supported within employment or new business start-ups, retaining them within the city upon graduation.
Retail Development Programme (£1 million)
Based upon a successful city centre-based pilot supporting city centre and suburban retail areas to attract and support independent traders. WNF funding will attract a further £1 million from the private sector .Target to support over 100 existing or new retailers, protecting and creating more than 150 jobs.
Enterprise Coaching (£674,000)
Expert coaches will work within deprived and under represented communities to provide advice and support to potential entrepreneurs and new businesses of the future. Target of 1500 individuals engaged with.
Higher Skills (£525,000)
Full or part funding for up to 500 higher and further education places within city, including funding of employment placement opportunities.
Loans to SME Businesses (£471,000)
Help Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) access loans of between £1,000 and £50,000 from Arrow and ART, specialist business loan organisations. Target to support 145 loans, protecting or creating 98 businesses and 390 jobs.
Support on Business Rates (£500,000)
Providing business rate relief to small and medium sized businesses. Council investment will generate a further £1.5 million in relief from Central Government.
Entrepreneurs of the Future (£480,000)
Establishment of a dedicated unit within Birmingham Science Park to support and provide facilities for start-up high tech businesses. Predicted to create up to 20 new businesses and 70 new jobs within 2 years.
The WNF announcement, which will go to the Council's Cabinet for approval on Monday 13th July, is the latest in a number of initiatives announced by the city as it looks to support the local economy and workforce.
It follows hot on the heels of last week's announcement that the Council, as part of the multi-agency LDV Taskforce, is to host a major jobs and advice event at Villa Park on 24th and 25th July.
The 'FUTURES: Jobs for Birmingham and the West Midlands event will see employers from across the West Midlands giving those who attend the event the chance to apply there and then for jobs they currently have available.
Visitors to the event, open 10am - 4pm each day, will also be able to get free careers, benefits, debt management and training advice.